American tax for US citizens living in South Africa

4 min
Published on: 20-05-2022 Last modified on: 07-05-2024

As a US person living in South Africa, what exactly do you need to know regarding filing US and South African taxes and FATCA South Africa?   

American citizens living in South Africa face additional demands from the United States. Unlike almost every other country on the planet, the US Government taxes its citizens no matter where in the world they live.

All US citizens and green card holders who earn a minimum of $10,000 (or just $400 for self-employed individuals) anywhere in the world are required to file a US federal tax return and pay taxes to the IRS, regardless of where in the world they live, or their income is generated. 

The good news is if you are paying income tax in South Africa, there are various exclusions and exemptions available to prevent you from paying tax on the same income to the IRS too.

US taxes South Africa

If you earn over US$10,000 (or just $400 of self-employment income), wherever the income originates in the world, you have to file IRS form 1040. While any US taxes are due by April 15th, US expats get an automatic filing extension until June 15th, which can be extended further on request until October 15th.

If you had a total of at least US$10,000 in one or more foreign bank and/or investment accounts at any time during the tax year, you also have to file FinCEN form 114, otherwise known as a Foreign Bank Account Report or FBAR.

Sharing taxpayer info because of FATCA South Africa

The US and South African governments share taxpayer info because of the FATCA law (FATCA South Africa)

With the adoption of FATCA and CRS by South Africa, all local financial institutions, for example, the RMB (Rand Merchant Bank), need to comply with the regulatory requirements. Therefore, South African banks pass on US account holders’ account info to the IRS, so it’s not worth not filing or omitting anything on your return. The penalties for incorrect or incomplete filing for expats are steep.

If you’re a US citizen, green card holder, or have an American South African dual citizenship, and you have been living in South Africa, but you didn’t know you had to file a US tax return, it is time to inform yourself about the US tax system and your obligations.

If you are a resident of South Africa, you’ll have to pay South African income tax. You will also be liable for US taxes on this income, though, unless you claim one of the exemptions with these programs:

  • IRS Streamlined Procedure that allows you to catch up on your filing without paying any penalties
  • Relief Procedures for Certain Former Citizens, procedures for certain persons who have relinquished, or intend to relinquish, their United States (U.S.) citizenship and who wish to come into compliance with their U.S. income tax and reporting obligations and avoid being taxed as a “covered expatriate”

Don’t delay though, in case the IRS comes to you first.

More information about FATCA South Africa and US tax? Americans Overseas informs and helps

We, the founders of Americans Overseas, were born in the Netherlands and obtained our American nationality through our (American) mother.

When we heard about the US tax system for the first time around 2013, we were in total disbelief (it can’t be true!), anger (how can they do this?), fear (am I going to get fined or pick up other problems?), and panic (what should I do?). 

It is (unfortunately) true that there is an additional American tax levy. But there’s no information from the local government, and when approached, the consulate referred us to the IRS, and the IRS was impenetrable.

That’s why we started this initiative to help people from all over the world by providing proper information about the US tax system to avoid unnecessary panic, and offering help free of obligation and free of charge. If needed, we have a network of affordable professionals (accountants) who can help you with your tax obligations.

Americans Overseas can advise you which renunciation program is best for you and inform you about the American South African dual citizenship tax. If you have any doubts or questions about your tax situation as a US citizen living in South Africa, you can contact Americans Overseas


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Frequently asked questions

Understanding the US tax system, the obligations, and all the additional terms can be difficult. Especially if one lives outside of America. Is your question not answered? Contact us.

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